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Date 15 May 2006

Children's Panel staff threaten action as employers impose pay deal

UNISON - the union that represents staff working for Scotland's Children's panels - is consulting on action following a decision by the Scottish Children's Reporters Administration (SCRA) to unilaterally impose a pay and restructuring offer that only one third of union members voted to accept.

SCRA management decided to impose the package in the middle of negotiations, which only started in March this year. UNISON has agreed to lodge a formal failure to agree and dispute with the employer.

The union is currently consulting with members on the action to be taken. This will include legal action, urgent meetings with Scottish Ministers, and could include industrial action at some level.

The pay offer - overdue since October 2005 - covers increases for staff over 2 years. It also introduces a new pay system which alters levels of pay and the method of uplifting pay. This means rises of 4.7% to some new starts but only offers 3.6% or 2% to experienced Reporters and Administrative staff. UNISON described this as divisive, demoralising and unnecessary.

"This is the wrong decision being made at the wrong time and will have a detrimental effect on both staff and morale, said Marion Adamson, UNISON Regional Organiser.

"The pay deal SCRA trumpeted as significantly better than the one in place, fails to deliver an acceptable career structure for staff through the pay grades. It will take reporters and many other staff up to 14 years to reach their full salary.

Despite the rise being planned to cover the next two years, no allowance has been built in for inflation. UNISON's request to allow a further vote on revised proposals, which also included a re-grading of the staff following Job Evaluation, was rejected by the management of SCRA who decided to impose the scheme and pay deal.

"It is clear that SCRA anticipated that the staff would not accept the pay restructuring and deal that was on offer and did not want to negotiate one which was acceptable to members. said Marion Adamson.

"This plan will demoralise over 490 staff working in SCRA. An organisation which administers the Scottish Executive's programme of child protection and youth justice via the Children's Hearing System. It is slap in the face to a staff group which has and is facing many pressures to cope with a workload which has seen an increase of 50% since the creation of SCRA in 1996.

Marion Adamson continued "It is sad that the organisation which upholds the rights of children within the justice system, should so readily trample on the rights of their own employees and unilaterally change their conditions without a moment's hesitation or due process.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Marion Adamson, (Regional Officer) O131 226 0067(o) 07904 326 812(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

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